Where to Stay in Malaga First Time: Best Areas

The best areas to stay in Malaga for first-timers are Centro, Calle Larios, Maria Zambrano, Soho, La Malagueta, Pedregalejo, El Palo, and Ciudad Jardin. These neighborhoods are very popular and safe for tourists that offer a wide variety of attractions and amenities. In this blog, I will help you to find where to stay in Malaga for tourist, for families, and near the beach.

Founded in 770 BC by Phoenicians, Malaga is one of the oldest cities in the world, and is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. it’s the second-largest city in the Spanish region of Andalusia, the biggest town on the Costa del Sol. Malaga is one of the top destination in Costa del sol, along with Marbella.

This port city has 300 days of sunshine each year. Malaga has 3,800 hectares of vineyards and is one of the world’s oldest wine regions. Known for its blend of beautiful beaches, historic city sights, and beautiful rural scenery, Malaga is a city that has something for everyone.

The Old Town Malaga is the best area to stay in Malaga for first-timers due to close proximity to city’s tops sights and a wide range of accommodation options for all budget travelers. If you stay here, you will be located in the middle of everything, within walking distance to famous tourist attractions, as well as hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops.

Downtown is walkable, you can easily explore on foot. If you tired of walking, you can use Malaga Metro to travel around. There are 2 metro lines with line 1 from Andalucia Tech, line 2 from Sports Stadium, both end at the mainline train station, El Perchel.

Malaga airport, also known as the Costa del Sol airport, is the main international airport serving the Costa del Sol. it is the fourth busiest airport in Spain, after Madrid, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca. 85 percent of its traffic is international, with most of them from the European Union and the United Kingdom including Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Centro (Downtown Malaga, Old City)
💎 Best luxury hotel:Gran Hotel Miramar GL 
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:Ilunion Málaga
💰 Best budget hotel:Casa de la Merced Suites 

13 Best Areas to Stay in Malaga, Spain for tourist

1. Old Town, where to stay in Malaga for first time

Old Town, best area for first-timers

Malaga El Centro is the best place to stay in Malaga for first-time travelers because it is the heart of the city and it offers a wide variety of amenities and attractions. Also known as the Old Town, or Downtown, Malaga Centro is packed with stunning historic sights, vibrant clubs, bars, and restaurants, wineries and microbreweries.

Old Town is home to the most famous attractions in the city, as well as home to the renowned Art Mile contains the Picasso Museum, the Carmen Thyssen Museum, and the Centre Pompidou.

The Old Town is compact and walkable. You can easily explore on foot the narrow streets with a Moorish air of its historic Mozarabic buildings, museums, art deco palaces, baroque churches, Roman and Phoenician ruins.

At the heart of the historic center stands the Constitution Square, a public square. It is surrouned by bars, cafés, restaurants, tapas with lively terrace. The square also hosts some events during the year and is decorated with the main city Christmas tree on Christmas eve and New year’s eve.

Along with plaza de la Constitución, there are couples of plaza that worth checking including plaza de la Judería and la plaza de la Merced. Merced square is known as the birthplace of Picasso. Nearby, you will find the Cervantes Theatre, and the venue of the Málaga film festival.

If you love shopping, you must go to the Calle Marqués de Larios, the famous shopping street, lined with many cafes, restaurants, pubs, tapas bars, boutiques, and souvenir shops.

If you want to has the feel of the Pheonicians, Romans and Arabs period, head to visit the 11th century La Alcazaba, Gibralfaro castle, and Roman Theatre. The Gibralfaro castle offers stunning views of Mediterranean ocean, and at its foot stands the Roman Theatre, which was built Emperor Augustus period, on the top the Roman baths.

One of the must see landmarks in the historic center is the Cathedral of Malaga, also known as Catedral de la Encarnación. The church was built on the site of a former mosque, under the order of Catholic Monarchs. Build between the 16th and 17th centuries, its interior has Renaissance and baroque styles.

There are numerous of museums to see, such as Museo Picasso Málaga, Museo de Málaga, Museo Carmen Thyssen, Centre Pompidou, Museo Ruso and Museo Automovilístico, and CAC Málaga.

For local market experience, head to Mercado Atarazanas in a 19th-century wrought iron and glass building with Neo-Mudejar style where you can try some tapas and fresh pescaíto.

Downtown Malaga is where you can find one of the most famous beaches in the region, Playa La Malagueta. Being located right in the center of Malaga and being near numerous amenities such as bars and shops, this is a beautiful and convenient beach for all to enjoy and relax.

If you stay in Málaga Centro, don’t forget to check out El Palo, just a few minutes’ drive by car from Centro Málaga to the east. This area has beautiful beaches, a great place for the family to relax, swim or just wander around the promenade.

The accommodation also varies from great value, boutique hotels to high-end luxury hotels so there is something to fit all budgets. The Centro is home to some of the best hotel in the whole Malaga.

Stay in Centro if you are first-timers, want to stay in the heart of action; with vibrant nightlife and shopping; you want to stay close to everthing; you want covenient public transportation!

Best Places to Stay in Málaga Centro – Old Town:

luxury ($$$): Gran Hotel Miramar GL This superb, 5-star luxury hotel is set in a luxurious, listed, 20th-century building, just 10 yards from La Malagueta beach, and in walking distance from Malaga Cathedral, and Alcazaba. It offers elegant rooms with air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a private bathroom with a bath, and Bulgari toiletries.

mid-range ($$): Ilunion Málaga This 4-star hotel is located in the city’s port area. It is within walking distance from the Maria Zambrano Train Station, Picasso Museum, Malaga Cathedral, Malaga Historic Centre. It features an on-site restaurant, a wellness area with an indoor pool, a fitness center, and spacious rooms with air conditioning, free WiFi, a flat-screen satellite TV, a free safe, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer and free toiletries.

budget ($): Casa de la Merced Suites this hotel offers city views and free WiFi, it’s located near Picasso Museum, Misericordia Beach, Museum of Glass and Crystal, Alcazaba, and Gibralfaro Viewpoint.

hostel ($): The Lights Hostel this hostel is a great choice for those who want to stay in the city center while traveling on a budget on, 300 m from famous Calle Larios Street. It’s located near Malaga Cathedral and Carmen Thyssen Museum. Each room is air-conditioned, includes bed linen, and single-sex shared shower rooms and toilets on each floor.

🔍MORE HOTELS IN CENTRO

Check out my virtual tour of the best areas to stay in Malaga in this video, or continue reading:

2. Calle Larios, where to stay in Malaga for shopping

Calle Marqués de Larios, famous shopping street 

Calle Marqués de Larios, or simple Calle Larios, is Malaga’s Fifth Avenue, and one of the most modern parts of Downtown Malaga. This famous pedestrianized main shopping street is a shoppers paradise. It is also one of the most expensive streets in Spain, spanning from Plaza de la Constitución to the Parque de la Alameda.

Calle Larios is named after the Larios family. At the end of the street between the intersection between Alameda Principal and Calle Larios, you will find the Monumento Marqués De Larios, which is a monument dedicated to Manuel Domingo Larios y Larios.

A busy tourist area is filled with amenities like bars, cafes, restaurants, hotels, and shops. This provides ample choice, although does come at a slightly higher price.

The collection of bars and pubs in the area helps to create one of the most vibrant nightlife scenes in the city. This has made it popular with younger visitors, who often seek out a vibrant, party atmosphere to enjoy during their vacation.

Calle Larios also has the benefit of being located near the stunning harbor. This not only allows it to offer incredible views of the ocean and boats bobbing around in the water, but it also makes it ideal for anyone planning to take a cruise or stop off while already on one.

Stay In Calle Larios If you like shopping, you want a vibrant nightlife atmosphere, you want to be located near the city center, surrounded by amenities.

Best places to stay in Calle Larios:

🔍MORE HOTELS IN CALLE LARIOS

3. Maria Zambrano, where to stay in Malaga near the train station

 Maria Zambrano train station

The transportation hub of Malaga, Maria Zambrano Station is located on Explanada de la Estación in the city center, close to the Old Town and the harbor, as well as 9 km from Malaga Airport. It’s named after a famous Spanish philosopher.

The busiest rail terminal in Malaga is ideal for anyone coming to or leaving the city by train. It is connected with Spanish and French cities by high-speed long-distance AVE trains, and Renfe trains to the Andalucia region. You can easily travel to Córdoba, Madrid and Barcelona.

The bus station next to the train station also offers a wide range of connections throught out the province.

An incredibly busy area, it isn’t a good choice for anyone looking for a quiet getaway. However, an abundance of shopping and dining options adds to its convenience. Vialia Shopping Centre is integrated into the station with many shops, restaurants and cafés, cinemas, and a hotel.

Despite being so popular, it also features very affordable prices, making it a good choice for those traveling on a budget. You can find all kind of accomodations from budget guest houses to 3-star and 4-star hotels around the train station.

Stay In Maria Zambrano If you are traveling by train or on a budget, you want to be surrounded by amenities; you want a convenient locatio;

Best places to stay near Malaga Train Station:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN MALAGA TRAIN STATION

4. Soho, the art district, cool place to stay in Malaga

Soho, the art district,

Located near the heart of the city, the cool neighborhood of Soho is the Art District and one of the hippest, trendiest areas in Malaga. This neighborhoods is famous for its urban art and underground culture.

Sandwiched between Alameda Principal, Muelle Heredia, Guadalmedina river, and Plaza de la Marina, Soho is a very well-connected area, close to the María Zambrano Station and the intercity bus station.

The Malaga Arte Urbano Soho project (MAUS) has turned the neighborhood into an area perfect for art fans. Vibrant street art lines every road, with different artists such as Obey, Faith 47, Sal East, ROA or D’Face in many places, leading to an eclectic mix of styles and colors.

Street performers and food vendors further the bohemian atmosphere, helping you to embrace the unique cuisine, culture, and talents of the area. Soho is also known for its skateboarding spot. The dry Guadalmedina riverbed is a famous skatepark spot for young people practicing their skills!

Apart from the graffiti and skateboarding spot, you can visit Contemporary Art Center – CAC Málaga, and if you have a chance, visit Made in Soho Market every first Saturday of each month.

If you want to take break from art and culture, check out some of its modern tapas bars, beer house and brewery. Or if you want to see a play, head to Teatro Alameda, Málaga’s main theatres.

The area was allowed to develop its style as it had become a little more run-down than the rest of the city. This means you will find much fewer visitors, helping you have a quieter break, as well as a number of cheap boutique hotels and hostels, ideal for those traveling on a budget.

Stay In Soho If you want to stay in a vibrant neighborhood, you are a fan of art, you are traveling on a budget.

Best places to stay in Malaga in Soho:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN SOHO

5. La Malagueta, best area to stay in Malaga near the beach

La Malagueta, best area to stay in Malaga near the beach

La Malagueta Beach is located between the Port of Málaga and La Caleta beach, next to the Muelle Uno del Puerto. It is a quiet, residential, beachfront neighborhood. It is a great place to stay in the capital of Costa del Sol for the urban beach.

This beach gets its name from the La Malagueta neighborhood. In the 19th-century it was dominated by sugar factories and warehouses, then the Hospital Noble and the Plaza de Toros, and many skyscrapers were built at the beginning of the 20th century.

With everything catering largely to locals, it means you can experience some fabulous traditional cuisines and wares, for a much more reasonable price.

The beautiful Blue Flag beach offers a peaceful atmosphere, perfect for days relaxing on the sand, topping up your tan, or having fun in the water. This 1,200 meters long and 45 meters wide beach has dark sand, and a palm tree-lined seafront promenade.

There are also beach facilities like sunbeds, beach umbrellas, hammocks, parasols, sailing equipment, a children’s playground. You can also find Real Club Mediterráneo de Málaga, Spain’s oldest yacht club, next to the beach.

Meanwhile, there are also a few authentic Malagan sights you can see, such as a bullfighting ring, some stunning churches, and the Museum of the Heritage of Malaga which has more than 4,000 pieces of artifacts, documents, artworks, paintings, and sculptures.

This neighborhood is also a convenient location for attractions like Muelle Uno, Paseo del Parque, the neighborhoods of Pedregalejo, and El Palo.

Stay In La Malagueta If you want to stay near the beach, you want a quiet atmosphere; you want to experience some local cuisines and customs, you are interested in ocean views, churches, or a bullring.

Best places to stay in La Malagueta:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN LA MALAGUETA

6. Pedregalejo, lots of sea side restaurant with fresh seafood

Pedregalejo

Located between the Baños del Carmen and El Palo Beach, 5 km from Malaga’s center, Pedregalejo beach, also known as Las Acacias beach, is one of the most popular beaches of Malaga. The beach has relaxed vibes, it can be busy during the summer months but not too crowded like with urban beaches of La Malagueta.

The beach has 1,200 m long and 20 m wide. The beach is very calm water for swimming, as it has 6 manmade coves. This is a well-organise beach with lifeguards, showers, sunbeds, and umbrellas for rent.

A village centered around fishing; you will find a quiet community containing some of the best seafood restaurants in the city. You must try fresh grilling espetos (sardines) that are cooked on little boat-shaped BBQs right on the beach!

You may even have the chance to book a tour out on one of the many traditional wooden fishing boats if you are lucky.

Combined with beautiful beaches and a small collection of beach bars with a traditional atmosphere, it is the perfect spot for anyone seeking an authentic Spanish break. As everything is geared towards locals, it even offers reasonable prices, so won’t pose a problem for those on a budget.

Stay In Pedregalejo If you are a fan of fresh seafood, you want to go out on a fishing boat, you want a quiet, authentic experience, away from the city center, you are looking for something a little more affordable.

Best places to stay in Pedregalejo:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN PEDREGALEJO

7. El Palo, one of the best beaches on the Costa del Sol

El paolo

Located between the Pedregalejo and El Chanquete beaches, the traditional fishing neighborhood of El Palo is around 7 kilometers from the city center. The beach of El Palo is one of the best beaches on the Costa del Sol.

This Blue Flag beach is a sandy beach with shallow waters and an extensive palm grove, great for families. The beach is 1200 m long and 25 m wide. There is also a range of amenities.

An almost completely residential area, it is a great choice for anyone looking for an authentic experience. Beach Bars, shops, and restaurants are all geared towards the local population. 

This not only means you’ll see the true flavor of the local cuisine, but you’ll pay a lot less for it as well. Known for its fabulous beach and fishing community, you can relax on the sand, enjoying ocean views and fresh seafood in peace.

You must try the pescaito frito (fried fish), a skewer of sardines, and El Tintero which is one of the most unique bars in Spain.

Offering great value and a slower pace makes El Palo ideal for those traveling as a family, especially if you have small children. Small, family-run hotels and guest houses let you completely relax, without being surrounded by mobs of tourists.

If you have a chance, you can take part in the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel festival in July. Enjoy traditional religious procession, concerts, and flea markets, as well as get to know more about local history and culture.

Stay In El Palo If you want a small, quiet village; you want a beach vacation; you are traveling as a family or with children.

Best places to stay in El Palo:

🔍FIND BEST HOTELS IN EL PALO

8. Ciudad Jardin, budget friendly with good links to the city centre

best location to stay in Malaga near airport
Terry Whalebone (source: flick)

It’s time for a change of pace now, as we move to Malaga’s most northernly region of Ciudad Jardin, known as Garden City in Spanish. Much more detached from the heart of the city, this mountainous region is more suited for those who want to explore or experience some of the island’s rural culture.

Being the home to both the Historic Botanical Garden Of La Conception and the Montes De Malaga National Park, those looking to see the natural beauty of the area and how it has evolved throughout the years will have plenty to keep them enthralled throughout their stay.

Its more remote and expansive location make a car a necessity for a trip here but that also makes it a much quieter, less touristy vacation where you can explore the scenery without worrying about crowds.

The accommodation is more expensive here, as it often is in more traditional areas and there is also less of it so make sure to book in advance if this sounds like the trip for you.

Stay in Ciudad Jardin if you like nature, you don’t like crowds, you have a car, you have a little more to spend on accommodation in Malaga, you aren’t bothered by traditional tourist amenities, you like to explore.

Best places to stay in MálagaCiudad Jardin:

mid-range ($$): Apartamento con parking gratuito This accommodation is a private, fully equipped, air-conditioned, pet-friendly apartment. It’s close to Jorge Rando Museum, Museum of Glass and Crystal. It features 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, bed linen, towels, a flat-screen TV with cable channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a balcony with garden views.

budget ($): Apartamento Segalerva Centro This apartment is superb, privately owned, located just over a mile from La Malagueta beach, Jorge Rando Museum, and Picasso Museum. It has 3 bedrooms, a living room and a flat-screen TV, an equipped kitchen with a dining area, and 1 bathroom with a bidet and a washing machine.

9. Campanillas, a traditional area in Malaga for walking

Moving now to the north-western region of Malaga, we come to Campanillas. Similar in ways to Ciudad Jardin, this is another less built-up area where the focus is on exploration and nature.

However, the big selling points here are more the man-made variety. Sights such as the historic Castillo De Cartama, a beautiful old church, and castle, sit high up in the hills while La Casa De Ingeniero, a picturesque house owned by the king of Spain, lies by a stunning lake.

Both of these sites, as well as many other smaller attractions and villages, are dotted around the region, making it a perfect place for those looking to experience some scenic hiking trails.

Again, much like Ciudad Jardin, the accommodation options are a little more expensive here than in the city and are also extremely limited so be sure to make your reservations early.

Stay in Campanillas if you like history, you want a more traditional area, you like walking, you like beautiful scenery.

Best places to stay in MálagaCampanillas:

mid-range ($$): Hotel Plaza del Castillo is a beautiful, medieval hotel, where a castle façade, stained-glass windows, stone walls and traditional paintings are surrounded by ornate gardens, to completely immerse you in this unique property. It’s 10 minutes drive from Congress Palace and the Cortijo Torres Fairground.

budget ($): Posadas de España Malaga is a stylish, modern hotel, located near Malaga’s Botanical Gardens and the A-7 Motorway, in Andalusia’s Technology Park. It’s within 15 minutes drive to the beaches of the Costa de Sol.

Budget ($): Hostal Doña Manuela is a great value option next to Andalusia Technology Park, which is ideal for those traveling on a budget. Carmen Thyssen Museum and Calle Larios are 1km from the hotel.

10. Palma-Palmilla, easy access area to Malaga centro

Where To Stay In Malaga Palma
Palma Blake Handley (source: flick)

The region of Palma-Palmilla (District 5) runs up the entire western border of Ciudad Jardin and meets Centro at its north-western point.

This is a region that provides a nice combination of rural beauty with city convenience. Its attractions range from the stunning views of Monte Coronado to the beautifully designed Estadio La Rosaleda, home to the Malaga football team.

Whether you want to be on the fringes of the city or more out in the country, this is a region that will have options to suit you regardless.

Much like the region as a whole, its accommodation is just as diverse so whether you want a low budget or high end, Palma-Palmilla should have you covered.

Stay in Palma-Palmilla if you enjoy a diverse location, you want a rural trip with ease of access to the city, you like football.

11. Cruz De Humilladero, best area with great transport links

Where To Stay In Malaga Cruz De Humilladero malaga
Fredrik Rubensson (source: flick)

The region of Cruz De Humilladero (Spanish for shrine’s cross) is located on the western border of Centro. This is the region perfectly designed for tourists that want to be near to the city but not stuck within its confines.

Cruz del Humilladero is the most representative monument. It has historical significance for the Crown Prince Don Fernando of Antequera’s oath.

It has incredible transport links including Malaga’s main train station, the Maria Zambrano, to make getting anywhere from the city to beaches or the airport a breeze.

It also features a number of international stores, such as Lidl and Primark, to make tourists feel right at home on their travels.

As we’re back near the city, the prices are again very wide-ranging so if the convenient hub location sounds just right for you then you don’t need to be worrying about price.

Stay in Cruz De Humilladero if you like home comforts on your travels, you like great transport links, you want to be both near the city but not caught up in it.

Best places to stay in Malaga in Cruz De Humilladero:

12. Carretera De Cadiz, southwest of the Malaga Centro district

best area To Stay In Malaga for beaches
Málaga Ahora(source: flick)

Located directly southwest of Centro, Carretera De Cadiz or district 7, features a lot of similar aspects to its neighbor. Comparable in both size and population, it’s the fact that it’s a little less of a tourist hotspot that might be a selling point for many. 

It has all the same attractions like historic sights, a beautiful beach, and ample bars and restaurants to keep you well-fed and entertained of an evening, however with fewer tourists buzzing around you can enjoy what it has to offer more at your own pace.

Its location next to Málaga Centro also makes it an easy trip in if you do want a busier day on occasion. Accommodation is also priced on a wide scale so this again is an area that anyone can afford to stay.

Best Places to Stay in Carretera De Cadiz:

mid-range ($$): Vincci Málaga is a designer, 4-star hotel, located on Malaga’s seafront promenade, featuring beautiful, air-conditioned rooms with stunning black and white décor. Within a short drive from Málaga Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Málaga Trade Fair, and AVE high-speed train station.

mid-range ($$): Hilton Garden Inn Málaga is a beautiful, modern, 4-star luxury hotel that offers all the luxury you would expect from a Hilton property. Martín Carpena Sports and Aquatic Centre and Málaga Convention Centre are in a short drive away.

budget ($$): Ibis Budget Málaga Aeropuerto Avenida de Velazquez is a place that offers everything you would expect based on its name. An affordable hotel located near to the airport, it is ideal for anyone traveling on a budget, on a layover, or worried about missing their flight. Martin Carpena Sports Centre and Málaga Exhibition Centre are located nearby.

13. Churriana, near Malaga airport

Churriana, most south-western district in Malaga
Churriana – Cayetano (source: flick)

Churriana is the most south-western district in Malaga. Located next to Guadalhorce valley, Churriana encompasses Malaga airport, the Sierra de Churriana hills, the beach, and the coastal area of Guadalmar.

You can visit the 19th century La Consula mansion with its beautiful grounds, the 17th-century Jardin del Retiro botanical. There is also the museum and research center Casa de Gerald Brenan which is the former house of Anglo-Irish writer Gerald Brenan.

If you visit at the right time, you can have a chance to take part in local events such as Viernes Dolores (Good Friday) of Holy Week, the Fiesta of the town’s patron saint, San Isidro in May, and the Virgen del Carmen in July.

This is where things start to get a little less built up. While still on the edges of the city it is by no means undeveloped, however, being a little more out into the country provides a more relaxed feeling.

Featuring the best collection of beaches in Malaga, Churriana is the place to go if you’re looking for a traditional, laid-back beach vacation with the option to venture into a historic city close by if you so choose.

Again, the variety of accommodation is quite vast, from budget motels at the Malaga airport to a lush golf resort, so they have you covered whatever you’re looking for.

Best Places to Stay in MálagaChurriana:

mid-range ($$): Parador de Málaga Golf is an exquisite golf resort, where rooms with traditional Andalusian style and four-poster beds surround a historic, 18-hole golf course. It’s located near Plaza Mayor’s shopping center and only 4km from the airport.

budget ($): La Macarena Airport provides fully equipped apartments, each boasting a full kitchen and sun terrace, located just a short way from the airport. You can easily reach Los Alamos Beach, Automobile and Fashion Museum, Port of Malaga, and Atarazanas Market. This guest house is located 6km from La Macarena Airport.

budget ($): Sunny Beach is a beautiful, privately owned, air-conditioned, beachfront apartment, that boasts a private kitchen and living area. Misericordia Beach is 2km away from the hotel. Close to Guadalmar Beach, Guadalhorce Beach and Campo de Golf Beach.

Read more about Spain travel:

If you’re coming to Malaga in February or March, the best place to stay has to be Carretera De Cadiz. The reason for this is because this is the time of year that the incredible Malaga Carnival is celebrated.

Overall, Old Town Malaga is the best area to stay in Malaga for first-timers due to because it has a super central location and wide range of tourist attractions and amenities. If you book a hotel here, you will be located in the heart of the city, within walking distance from famous tourist attractions, as well as hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops.

Whether exploring, partying, or lazing your days away on a beach, Malaga is a city that has something to offer for everyone and is well worth a visit, no matter what you look for in a vacation.

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